Bio-Inspired Technology (TUD)

The class “Bio-Inspired Technology” is an MSc course given at the 3mE Faculty at TU Delft. The course Bio-Inspired Design gives an overview of non-conventional mechanical approaches in nature and shows how this knowledge can lead to more creativity in mechanical design and to better (simpler, smaller, more robust) solutions than with conventional technology. The course discusses a large number of biological organisms with smart constructions, unusual mechanisms or clever sensing and processing methods and presents a number of technical examples and designs of bio-inspired instruments and machines.

Examples of topics:
Strength at low weight, stiffness with soft structures, robustness and redundancy, storing energy in springs, energetically efficient muscle configurations, biological vibration systems, clamping with hands, claws, suction, glue, dry- and wet adhesion, biological walking, swimming, crawling and flying methods, locomotion of micro- and single-celled-organisms, biosensing, simple laws for complex behavior, evolution and engineering of living systems.

Structure of the course:

  1. Bioconstruction (how are creatures constructed)
    – Mechanical stiffness & motion
    – Hydrostatic stiffness & motion
    – Bioenergy (biological springs)
  2. Biopropulsion (how do creatures move)
    – Macroscale: walking, crawling, swimming & flying
    – Microscale: propulsion of single-celled organisms
  3. Bioclamping (how do creatures grasp)
    – General, hands & adhesion
  4. Biodevelopment (how do creatures evolve)
    – Evolution & engineering of living systems

To teach students how to create smart and truly innovative designs, students are trained with the ACCREx design method that was developed at the 3mE department Biomechanical Engineering. Alternating intuitive brainstorming with logical, scientific abstracting and categorizing, ACRREx structures and guides a design process in the direction of fundamentally new design solutions.

Students are subdivided into multidisciplinary student groups. Each student group recieves a design assignment to which a novel, bio-inspired solution has to be found. During the design process, the student groups are coached by the teachers and have to give a number of concise presentations about their progress to the other student groups.

The examination consists of three parts:
1. Each student group hands in a scientific paper covering the biological background, the design process and the final solution for the design assignment.
2. Each student group gives a final presentation to the teachers and the other student groups.
3. Each student group fabricates a demonstration model that shows the essence of the final solution.

The final mark of each individual student is based on a weighted average between these group results and his/her functioning within the student group.

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